Why are God's chosen people called "Hebrews" 18 times: OT, 3 times, NT, "Israelites" 16 times: OT, 2 times: NT and "Jews" 89 times: OT, 168 times: NT? I believe the amount of times mentioned should give us some clues about our Lord’s message.
ESV - 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth.
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I would express it by saying that the terms "Hebrew", "Israelite", and "Jew" (in that order) represent a progressive narrowing of references to God's chosen people (although the terms are all commonly interpreted as applying to the inhabitants of the nation of Israel as a whole), "Hebrew" was originally applied to the descendants of the patriarch Eber (Genesis 11:16-26), and specifically to those of Abram/Abraham, identifying him as a descendant of Eber (Genesis 14:13), leading to the application of that term to him as the founder of the Jewish nation, and later to his descendants as a whole. "Israelite" narrowed the scope of Abraham's descendants to the twelve sons of his grandson Jacob (founders of the twelve tribes of Israel). Jacob was given the name "Israel" (meaning "he who strives with God") by the being (possibly a theophany of the pre-incarnate Christ) with whom Jacob wrestled, as indicated in Genesis 32:22-32. "Jews" derives from the descendants of Jacob's son Judah, who was the patriarch of one of the only two of the twelve Israelite tribes (along with the tribe of Benjamin) that remained visible to history after the carrying away of the ten "lost tribes" into exile by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17). (However, the tribe of Benjamin was also very nearly eradicated, as indicated in Judges 19-21.) It was through the tribe of Judah that King David was descended, as well as Jesus (through His mother).
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